Blooming like a burst of fragrant flowers off a building’s stem, the scent of chocolate pulls; floral, rich and with a touch of spice. Pure passion, it welcomes you to one of the new treasures of this Imperial city, a fine chocolatière.
Named Ruro, the Quechua word for grains that includes cacao, it reminds us that chocolate originates in the Amazon basin most likely and that Cusco has its own indigenous cacao called chuncho. This small podded fruit produces beans with superb quality, a bouguet of taste that is among the finest in the world, though it has been undervalued in the face of hybrid plants.
The shop is bright and airy, a hill top in the jungle filled with perfume and sunshine. It not only serves up handmade truffles and bars in 70%, 50% and white chocolate—each a revelation of flavor, it also offers molded chocolates in the shape of Peruvian icons. On entering you are offered a small cup of hot cacao tea, made from the shells of cacao beans. The tea melds the lightness of morning sunshine with a delicate taste and scent that tempts you to try the variety of chocolate chips they offer on a small plate.
Soledad Champi Oviedo brings us the cups with a smile and laugh that run competition with cacao blooms for passion and power. Lithe, once a competitive volleyball player, from La Convención from where chuncho also comes, Soledad reminds us they also serve hot chocolate made from full cream milk and chuncho chocolate, as well as handmade ice creams.
Her energy, tight and intense, draws us to converse. She and Sharon Caballero Enciso met while working in a chocolate factory, both having studied tourism, and decided their passion was making chocolate and they could do it better than the place where they worked.
The opened Ruro three weeks ago, after daunting detective work to find all the finest products and a good site and design. Their first day they worried no one would come. They took a plate with chips of their chocolates—white, milk, dark and mixed with coca or hot paprika— people started coming in. Not just in ones and twos, but in crowds.
Located at the door of a fine restaurant Paprika and a four star hotel on Plateros Street 383, the bloom of chocolate scent pulled at people going into one or the other and they had to come in for chocolate.
Without further advertising, scent and chips of chocolate, Ruro is becoming a success.
I wanted to try the truffles since they are where one can test the chocolatière’s art. Ruro offers four for the moment, a coconut, lúcuma, vanilla bean, and peanut. Each is simply but distinctively decorated with a ribbon of colored chocolate and contains an outer shell of fine and flavorful dark chocolate. Inside it has a rich and well prepared ganache that is lightly though distinctively flavored. The flavors combine beautifully and the truffles are good while also showing amazing promise.
Ruro’s goal is to promote La Convención’s amazing cacao, the chuncho, as well as other products. Soledad argues with fire that the finest products of Peru tend to be exported and local people’s don’t get to taste them or consume them. She and Sharon want to turn that around.
Through their chocolate chop they teach about chuncho cacao and its quality at the same time they offer what can only be called the finest chocolate in the city of Cusco.
Whether you stop for a hot chocolate, rich and dark, mild and light, or somewhere in between to fortify yourself against the cold of night in this high altitude city, or you buy truffles or a bar to take home and share, you will have found the true treasure of the city, one that has remained hidden for so long. Now it comes into bright scented light and is a miracle on your tongue.